The open floor plan has been ubiquitous for a while now, as people have eschewed closed-off rooms in favor of combined, free-flowing spaces. And while it may seem simple to take down a few walls to achieve the desired all-inclusive effect, there are tricks to creating a beautiful and functional open concept area. Recently, we asked the interior design experts at Cincinnati, Ohio-based Platte Architecture + Design to share their advice for creating a successful open concept space. From structural factors to selecting lighting, here are their recommendations.
Engage in careful space-planning. Before you knock down all those walls, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, the Platte team advises. The existing structural and plumbing walls, stairs, and windows will all come into play by establishing the shape of the space. Locations for support functions, such as the laundry room, mudroom, powder room, and storage, should also be identified. Last but not least, they recommend prioritizing natural light for dining and living zones, so the areas in which you spend the most time lounging will have access to the most sunlight.
Define your zones. While the lack of separation is part of the appeal of an open floor plan, you still want each area to feel distinct. For example, in the space featured above, the Platte team dropped the ceiling height down in the kitchen to create a more intimate scale, while the ceiling plane in the flanking dining and living rooms were raised for a more dramatic and defined open plan. Introducing a framed threshold between the kitchen, dining, and living room or adding a bisecting staircase can also create more spatial separation within an open layout.
Tie spaces together with cabinetry. Although it’s nice to incorporate design elements to distinguish between zones, as noted above, you also want the areas to feel cohesive. According to the Platte team, an effective way to tie several spaces together in a layout is by extending casework from one space to another. In the modern residence featured above, Platte extended the kitchen cabinets to create a credenza at the dining table and media center in the living room, which provides a visual foundation—plus ample storage.
Be strategic with your lighting choices. When selecting lighting for your open space, the Platte team recommends choosing your focal point and making a statement. For instance, they suggest using a large feature light or pendant light at the dining table to contrast more discreet can lighting above a kitchen island. For a sleeker look, they advise opting for four-inch diameter can lights, versus the more traditional six-inch cans, and considering wall-washer lighting in strategic locations.